Decommissioning of the BR3 Reactor: Status and Perspectives

Luc Noynaert, Ingrid Verstraeten

Research outputpeer-review


The BR3 plant at Mol in Belgium built at the end of the fifties was the first PWR plant built outside the USA. The reactor had a small net power output (10 MWe) but comprised all the loops and features of a commercial PWR plant. The BR3 plant was operated with the main objective of testing advanced PWR fuels under irradiation conditions similar to those encountered in large commercial PWR plants. The reactor was started in 1962 and shut down in 1987 after 25 years of continuous operation. Since 1989, SCK•CEN is decommissioning the BR3 PWR research reactor. The dismantling of the metallic components including reactor pressure vessel and internals is completed and extensively reported in the literature. The dismantling of auxiliary components and the decontamination of parts of the infrastructure are now going on. The decommissioning progress is continuously monitored and costs and strategy are regularly reassessed. The first part of the paper describes the main results and lessons learned from the reassessment exercises performed in 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2007. Impacts of changes in legal framework on the decommissioning costs will be addressed. These changes concern e.g. licensing aspects, clearance levels, waste management… The middle part of the paper discusses the management of activated and/or contaminated concrete. The costing exercise performed in 1995 highlighted that the management of activated and contaminated concrete is the second main cost item after the dismantling of the reactor pressure vessel and internals. Different possible solutions were studied. These are evacuation as radioactive waste with or without supercompaction, recycling this “radioactive” grout or concrete for conditioning of radioactive waste e.g. conditioning of metallic waste. The paper will give the results of the cost-benefit analysis made to select the solution retained. The last part of the paper will discuss the end goal of the decommissioning of the BR3. In the final decommissioning plan approved by ONDRAF/NIRAS, it was mentioned that the final goal of the BR3 decommissioning will be the “green field” unless opportunities for reuse of the BR3 site will occur during decommissioning. A strategy of partial reuse of the BR3 facility is proposed and being discussed with the main stakeholders. The paper will give the present state of the discussion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
PublisherASME - The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-0-7918-4339-0
StatePublished - 31 May 2009

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